SLU’S Faith Community Goes Virtual


Photo by Emma Carmody

As the SLU community continues to adjust to new ways of operating during the COVID-19 pandemic, one area which has seen tremendous success is the maintenance of a strong and welcoming community of faith. 

As President Pestello and others have repeatedly stressed, the times we currently find ourselves in demand that we sustain and invigorate our community, even if it is a “community in dispersion.” SLU Campus Ministry and wider faith networks on SLU’s campus have been especially creative in their response to the pandemic, transitioning seamlessly to virtual programming through Zoom, YouTube and other virtual platforms. Despite the barriers of physical separation, SLU’s community of faith continues to prevail. 

As many might already be aware, St. Francis Xavier College Church has created a YouTube channel, where masses, reflections and other liturgical celebrations are streamed and uploaded. The channel, which began posting videos soon after the University closure was announced, has thousands of channel views and over 1,000 subscribers.  

In a message to College Church parishioners,  Fr. Dan White, S.J. emphasized that heeding the advice of medical professionals and civic authorities and remaining close to one another as a community of faith, especially as Easter approached, need not be mutually exclusive. Virtual participation in the Sunday liturgy, prayer of the rosary and meditations on scripture can unite the community, even if that unity is not geographical. 

Each Sunday, College Church streams its 10:30 a.m. mass, which viewers can either watch live or as a standard video. The channel also features shorter length videos of Gospel readings and homilies that can be easily watched at any time throughout the week. 

As Holy Week began, the channel ramped up its output, preparing a “virtual Triduum” with a video entitled “An Invitation to Triduum” by Fr. Dan White, S.J. Each day of Holy Week brought with it new readings and reflections, culminating in a live-streamed Easter Sunday, which had over 3,000 viewers. 

Outside of Holy Week and Easter celebrations, SLU Campus Ministry also sponsored and circulated an extensive list of faith-related programming. The complete list, which can be found in an email to the student body from Campus Minister Patrick Cousins, features a diverse array of resources for students of all faith backgrounds looking to remain connected to the SLU community in a faith-based capacity. 

Each Friday, Campus ministry hosts an “Interreligious Centering Prayer,” which is open to students of all faith backgrounds and features 15 minutes of silent meditation alongside a short reflection. Other highlights include a “Taste of Ignatius” reflection and guided meditation by Spring Hall’s own Fr. Joe Laramie, S.J, and “A Weekly Stroll with Jim Roach,” featuring a scripture reading and reflection by the Griesedieck Hall Campus Minister Jim Roach. 

As the SLU community continues to navigate the unknowns still ahead, there is comfort to be found in the resilience and tenacity of our dispersed, yet tight knit, community of faith, one which will continue to be a source of strength and fortitude in the weeks to come.